THEGREENGROK    Statistically Speaking

Views on Anthropogenic Climate Change Vary. Why?

by Bill Chameides | July 24th, 2009
posted by Erica Rowell (Editor)

Permalink | 1 comment


Statistics provide numbers. We decide what they mean. Case in point: how different groups view the causes of global warming.

Percentage of people polled who believe the Earth is warming because of human activity*:

Other Posts on Science Surveys
What Do Scientists Think About Climate Change?, Jan. 23, 2009
Is Scientific Ignorance Environmental Bliss? , April 30, 2009

84% of scientists**
74% of liberal Democrats
64% of Democrats
59% of conservative/moderate Democrats
49% of general public
41% of moderate/liberal Republicans
30% of Republicans
21% of conservative Republicans

Percentage of polled scientists who identify as:

Democrats: 55%
Independents: 32%
Republicans: 6%

What does this mean?

Why has the science of climate change become a partisan issue?

Why are liberals more likely to agree with scientists than conservatives, who pride themselves on being realists?

Why are scientists more likely to be democrats? Is their scientific objectivity clouded by their politics?

Or is their scientific knowledge more likely to lead them to a Democratic mindset?

And if more Republicans were scientists, would they still be Republicans?
* Based on a recent survey by The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The general public part of the poll, conducted from April 28 to May 12, 2009, surveyed a nationwide sample of 2,001 adults, 18 years of age or older. The scientists surveyed were drawn from a list of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society. The results for the scientist survey are based on 2,533 online interviews conducted from May 1 to June 14, 2009 with a subset of AAAS members.

**Scientists in the survey were predominantly U.S.-born, white men over the age of 50 whose area of expertise focuses on medical or biological research. Thus, their views were for the most part not influenced by the potential for climate research funding.

filed under: climate change, faculty, global warming, politics, science, Statistically Speaking

1 Comment

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  1. Jim
    Nov 16, 2009

    I wanted to go back and address this topic since this is something I am interested in. I really don’t think the issue here is global warming or the science behind it, but with government control vs. the free market. Republicans tend to support the idea of the free market with less government regulation and often do not trust the government or the political process. They often view the government as an institution with no overseer that can arbitrarily create regulations that may impinge on individual freedoms. Since much of the rhetoric about global warming comes from political or government organizations (IPCC, Universities) they tend to take anything about global warming with a grain of salt. They see global warming leading to more government control which will reduce individual freedoms. I look at organization such as the Marshall Institute or the Cato Institute which fiercely believe in the free market. These are organization that have smart people in them, scientists of some renown that you think would see the science behind global warming, yet they chose to speak out against it. My belief is that they are trying to disrupt any legislation that might result in government regulation. Of course I could be wrong, this is based on my own observations but I think it’s worth considering.

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